Each new year, countless Americans resolve to make healthy lifestyle changes, eat better and exercise more. The key to keeping these popular New Year resolutions isn’t signing your life away to attain a gym membership or purchasing expensive organic vegetables at the supermarket. Instead, you may want to give serious consideration to growing your own garden complete with spices, herbs and vegetables. Here are 5 ways that gardening can help you keep your resolutions this year.
Burn More Calories
It isn’t surprising that you will burn calories when you tend to your garden. What is surprising is just how many you will burn. Most online calorie calculators estimate that the average person who weighs 150 pounds will burn as many as 275 calories from an hour of gardening. This is the equivalent of a grand latte’ or a bottle of regular cola. Want to burn even more calories? Whenever possible, do things manually; use a hoe rather than a tiller, a rake instead of a leaf blower. Gardening is a great way to boost your metabolism and burn calories.
Increase Bone Density And Overall Strength
The tasks associated with caring for a garden are essentially weight-bearing exercises that increase your bone density. Pulling weeds, digging holes, carrying loads of compost and top soil all count as weight training. You will also increase your overall strength from such activities. Both of these things are especially important to lower your risk of osteoporosis later in life. As with any type of exercise, be sure to stretch before you work strenuously in the garden and drink plenty of water.
Builds A Network Of Friends
An unexpected benefit of gardening is that it helps you build a network of friends. You may wonder how this can help you keep your resolutions, but it’s essentially the same as having a workout buddy to go to the gym with. When you have friends who enjoy gardening and share their passions with you, you will be more likely to stick with it this year and for many years to come.
Better Quality Of Life
Countless studies have shown that adults who participate in outdoor activities have a better quality of life and are happier overall. Happiness has a direct link to one’s mental health. Getting outside and surrounding yourself with flowers, plants and vegetables will greatly improve your zest for life—not to mention add a little zest to your cooking!
Improve Sleep Patterns
Another key to becoming healthier—both physically and mentally—is to get a good night’s rest. Gardening has been proven to lessen anxiety and has a calming effect which leads to better sleep patterns and a higher quality of rest. In fact, there is an entire field of medicine dedicated to the sleep benefits of gardening called horticultural therapy.
A balanced diet begins with fresh vegetables. Even if you are buying produce from the grocery store or farmers market, they really aren’t considered fresh. They have spent time on a truck and in the display, losing valuable nutrients. The most nutritious fruits and vegetables are those consumed right off the vine. Furthermore, the process used to clean and preserve commercial produce strips them of probiotics found in the soil. Fresh vegetables also taste better, meaning you will be less likely to drown them in butter and pile on the salt.
You are also more likely to make healthier choices and reach for fresh fruit or veggies when you want a snack. When you put the time and effort into growing something, it becomes more desirable than even deliciously evil processed snacks such as a bag of chips. A healthier diet that includes more fruits and vegetables will hot only help you lose weight, but will also lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease and even some forms of cancer. Eating fresh vegetables will improve your overall health in a number of ways.
It doesn’t matter if you have an acre of land to build a backyard garden or you work in a community garden a few times a week; the benefits will be the same. Not to mention that you will probably save a lot of money on your grocery bill by growing your own produce.